The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Nurarihyon no Mago – Sennen Makyou

Title: Nurarihyon no Mago – Sennen Makyou aka Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan: Demon Capital
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Studio DEEN
Format: 24 episodes
Date: 3 Jul 2011 -18 Dec 2011

Synopsis: Nura Rikuo and his clan have earned a reputation among other demon clans after their victory over the Shikoku clan, and peace has finally been restored in Japan. However, a new adversary has surfaced and it threatens to upset the balance between humans and demons for good. The new threat comes in the form of Hagoromo-Gitsune, an all-powerful fox demon that has reawakened after being defeated by Rikuo’s grandfather 400 years ago. Why has she risen again after all these years, and how will Rikuo defeat her when she has become much more powerful than before?

The Highlights
Ambiance: Much darker and focused than first season; less frills and more action.
Pacing: Inconsistent; brisk for some parts while sluggish for others.
Fight scenes: Passable but frequently intruded by excessive trash-talking and “Name-that-Move” sequences.
Characters: Too many introduced; interesting characters are not explored enough.
Ending
: An example of deus ex machina at its best.

One of the major problems with Nurarihyon no Mago is how boring and forgettable it is. It does nothing to differentiate itself from other shounen action titles out there; while there is one decent arc featuring a mildly interesting character, the rest of the story is awfully draggy and pedestrian. Sennen Makyou attempts to amend that, and to some effect, it has paid off with a few decent results. The scale is grander and the plot cogwheel spins faster this time. Unfortunately, it hasn’t fixed some of its old habits; there are too many characters, both old and new, on deck and fight scenes are still littered with tropes. It’s a show that’s a slight improvement from the first season but it doesn’t break out of the mediocrity mold.

Right from the second episode, Sennen Makyou‘s ambiance is different from before. The tone is much darker and there’s an unsettling feeling that something grim and catastrophic is brewing. More significantly, the focus shifts more towards the youkai aspect of the Nurarihyon outline as it explores Nura Rikuo’s non-human identity, which is arguably the more interesting aspect of the titular character. The pacing too has stepped up by a few notches; while the first season’s pacing is comparable to a snail crossing a road, the development this time is more accelerated. Although things can be a bit sluggish at times, the pacing picks up and events occur as the story progresses.

But, not much to my surprise, it returns to its old ways and employs storytelling tactics that are synonymous with most shounen action titles, namely fighting sequences bogged down by plethoric trash talk and ego-boosting dialogue. The posturing dialogue, coupled with a lack of action and tacky “Name-that-Move” sequences more often than not kill any excitement the scene may have had. Another pet problem both seasons exhibit is their tendency to have too many characters. Even before the incumbent characters get their time to shine under the spotlight, new main and supporting characters end up tussling for screen time. In the end, potentially intriguing characters like Ryuuji and Akifusa are deprived of attention and fade into the background just when their characters begin to show interesting points. And then, there’s also the issue of Rikuo’s school friends who don’t add anything to the plot whatsoever, serving as nothing more than excess fat to the already bloated cast.

It’s good to see that Sennen Makyou tried to do something different by re-tuning the atmosphere and introducing new blood into the cast, making this season a tad better. But it has yet to solve the bigger root problems that existed since the previous season. In order to be substantially better, it has to trim down the cast, focus more on characterization and revise their action sequences. Cynically, I don’t believe I’m going to see those changes in the next season (if any) and I’d rather not hope for them to not disappoint myself. This is a shounen genre after all, and it’s a rather tall order to see such series take a stab at breaking convention and attempt something bold and deep.

The Rating: 5
5/10

Reviewed by: AC

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